Hej! We are Amy, Håkan, Elvin (4) and Frej (2) we live just outside Stockholm in Sweden.
Amy is originally from Devon in the UK and Håkan is Swedish, the kids are a both British and Swedish, we try to focus on the word “both” rather than using the word “half” as there is nothing incomplete about their Swedishness or Britishness. Elvin identifies as Finnish (despite having no Finnish blood at all) he tells people he speaks 5 languages, English, Swedish (that’s the truth) Finnish, Norwegian and another one which he can’t remember the name of, kids are great!
Our lifestyle… I think the things that define our lifestyle are our love of the outdoors and gender neutral parenting. Both loving being outdoors and gender neutral parenting are how I was brought up so it feels like a natural way to parent.
How do we make things work? I’d say the amazing support Sweden gives families help us make things work, childcare is heavily subsidised by the state, the maximum you pay for a full day is 5 pounds and that includes all food, trips out, art materials and often nappies. Sweden also pays a parent to stay at home if their child is ill so there is non of that pressure to get your child well and back at daycare/school so you can go back to work.
What inspired us? Sweden is a country that is big on equality and gender neutral parenting is popular here, there is even a pronoun for the situation where you see a person and you don’t know their gender or for people who don’t wish to state their gender, it’s very useful! The swedes also love the outdoors, there is a Swedish saying “there is no such thing as bad weather.. Only bad clothing!” It’s quite true (at lest with cold temperatures) my mum brought us up with similar values to the ones I have.
My children’s educational options are quite extensive. Schooling is free in Sweden, even specialist or alternative schools such as Montessori schools and Waldorf (Steiner) schools. There are also schools which specialise in music, dance, sports and schools which teach in English, French, Spanish, Finnish etc. Something which is not an option in Sweden is home education, it’s illegal to home educate your child in Sweden which is a big shame, but luckily the choice of schools is good. Children don’t start formal school in Sweden until the year September of the year they turn 7, in reality the vast majority of children are in preschool and a sort of reception year before then, but the focus on that time is to allow children to develop socially. Reading, writing and maths are not formally taught. The early school years are very play/socialisation focused, children only have between 3 and 3.5 hours of lessons in the first 3 years at school.
Our favourite activity varies depending on the season, in the spring we love to be out enjoying the first warm sun of the year and spotting pretty spring flowers. In the summer we love to swim in the lake and pick berries in the forests. In the Autumn we love to pick wild mushrooms and play in fallen leaves, Stockholm is so beautiful in the autumn! Winter is all about skiing/sledging/ice skating. Our biggest adventure, we have driven to the UK from Sweden a couple of times, that was quite an adventure!
I’m most grateful for the EU, without the EU I’d never have been able to just move to Sweden like I did. I’m also grateful to have 2 happy, healthy boys.
3 words. Nature, messy, busy.